When I was a little girl I was bookish and not the least bit sporty.  I did, however, love swimming, climbing trees, running with the dogs and playing games the neighborhood children played. I even endured hula dancing class.  It wasn’t until high school PE that I became one of the goalies of the girls’ soccer team.  I sometimes walked home all covered in mud.  The only time I was goalie and we played against another school, it was a long, hard match that ended in a draw.  No big deal – we had sandwiches and we had our stories, and we enjoyed ourselves.

I had a place in the team, a role and a goal, and I tried as much as possible to achieve it.  The sense of belonging and pride in the team was exhilarating.  For once I was the doer, not the watcher.  Many people prefer to just watch, and never give themselves a chance to do.

Many years later, I watched my goddaughter Jassie play girls’ Little League Softball.  Their team won the right to represent the Philippines at the International Little League World Series that year.  I cheered myself hoarse that day, and was so proud of my friends’ little girl.  I remembered thinking that when I was a little girl I could never hit anything on cue even if I tried.  I was hopeless at shooting a basketball or returning a volleyball serve.   The only thing I knew how to do was kick a ball in certain directions and block it with my body.  I thought it was great that kids nowadays had all these organized activities that gave them opportunities to discover physical and social skills, activities that weren’t available or fashionable when I was small.  All we had then was a choice of learning dance, or a musical instrument, or art, or kiddie cooking class.  Very few little girls then participated in team sports, unless you counted school patintero and Chinese garter games at recess.

Last Saturday I watched my niece Lilo play Little League T-ball.  It was a very hot and humid day, but families gathered around the El Circulo Verde field, cheering on their kids.  There’s something so appealing about watching 6-year-olds running around a diamond trying to catch a ball.  Each of them had a job to do.  Lilo batted twice; later she had to exit the game due to heat exhaustion.  They only played for an hour in the sweltering heat, but they all got their exercise, which is one thing kids always need enough of.

When Lilo started out with the International Little League Association of Manila‘s Major Holdings team, she was the smallest girl (and one of the youngest) in the group.  They practiced once a week on a weekday and played virtually every Saturday in the school year.  In the beginning she didn’t understand the game rules.  She cried whenever she was tagged out.  Eventually she learned to hit a ball on a tee strongly, even hit a coach’s pitch, and to catch a ball. And she learned to run as fast as she could.  There were days she didn’t feel like playing, but she played anyway.  There were days she was more interested in daydreaming while in the outfield. But she played anyway.  Her teammates didn’t all go to the same school, but they all became friends.

A year later, some teammates moved into the next age group.  Some stopped playing in favor of other pursuits.  This year Lilo plays in a mixed boys and girls group.  (More new friends!)

t-ball-01t-ball-02t-ball-03This sort of experience is so important.  It’s not about dressing up to look sporty, or so you have something to brag about (although some people do that).  It’s about learning to work with others, and to do your job the best way you can so you can contribute to the team’s success.  For most little girls, it’s trying out what you initially think you’re not inclined to do, with the hope of finding out that you really like what you’re doing.  And becoming the better person for it.

The last time I participated in a team sport, it was in Philippine airsoft, from 2001-2003.  I was a member of the PPG, an all-girl assault squad of Team Wyvern.  We participated in the first Kalis competition, where we had to successfully complete an assault module, a defense module and a hostage rescue module.  We held a respectable middle place in the competition, not bad for first-timers.  Here’s a couple of photos from those days when I was 20lbs lighter and had sharper cheekbones:

That’s Ria Miranda-Regis and me clearing out the first room of the FTI warehouse in Taguig.  (Thanks to Mike Wu for these photos!)

The PPG disbanded at a time when some of us became wives and mothers.  Those are important roles, too – except your team is your family this time.  As for me, I passed my airsoft gear on to my godson Raffi, who uses it mostly for cosplay.

Those with young children should take advantage of opportunities for team sport.  If you’re thinking about things like the expense and the time it takes up, believe me, it’s worth it.  Let your children join something, have fun and learn to play well with others.  There are many, many lessons to learn from experiences like this, but playing well with others is one of those skills that you may not realize means a lot when it comes to living well in this world.


facialoilsI’ve always had a pretty good complexion.  However, at my present age, I’ve noticed some dryness and peeling on the sides of my nose, around my lips and between my brows.  I asked my dermatologist friend about it, and she said it was pretty common for one’s skin quality to change as it matures.  At one point the peeling became so bad I was prescribed applications of an anti-inflammatory corticosteroid cream on the problem areas.  There were days my skin would remain moist and not peel, and there were days when the facial peeling looked downright embarrassing.

Like most women I’ve tried the mainstream moisturizers on the market:  Brand O, Brand N, Brand P, Brand L.  While they all worked reasonably well for me, I thought this time I’d try something more natural, and if possible, organic.  For the past three weeks I’ve been trying a different natural facial oil for a week each:  Argan Oil, Ilog Maria Royal Jelly Facial Oil, and cold-pressed, culinary grade Virgin Coconut Oil.  It sounds counter-intuitive to put oil on one’s face, but for me (and this is a subjective review) it works.

The most exotic of the three, Argan Oil, I found at a stall at Mercato Centrale.  It cost PhP 1,500 for a 30ml dispenser bottle.  A fair trade product that supports the women of the Berber tribes, this edible oil is imported from Morocco and repacked by local distributor The Souq International.  While some people would balk at the price, consider that one application is only about 1-3 drops.  On the site it is advertised as a hair-skin-nails moisturizer – “treatment for acne, pimples, scars/keloids, dark spots, large pores, psoriasis, eczema, wrinkles, split ends, weak nails, aging skin, lack-luster skin, etc.”  Since I had facial dryness and contact dermatitis on one finger and had the extra cash, I thought, why not?  Some beauty/anti-aging products that I’ve tried (that actually worked) cost as much, if not a lot more.

I used the Argan Oil as a night moisturizer after washing my face, applied with the fingers and not with a cotton ball (at that price, would you lose the oil to the cotton ball?).  It spreads easily, and has an initial natural scent of “sour forest floor”, which disappears once the oil is absorbed on the skin.  If you’re not used to putting oil directly on your face, go with 1-2 dispenser drops (or the size of a 25-centavo coin).  When I woke up the next day I was pleased to find no oil or scent on my pillows, my pores looked smaller and my problem areas looked moist but not oily/shiny.  It helped my dermatitis-affected finger, too.  Verdict:  I loved it.  On the last day of my week’s trial I was lazy and forgot to moisturize.  I woke up with the usual dry reddish areas on my face and peeling around the sides of my mouth.

The second week I used Ilog Maria’s Royal Jelly Facial Oil.  I had bought this on my last visit to Ilog Maria, Joel Magsaysay’s bee farm, in Silang, Cavite.  I couldn’t remember how much I bought it for, but on the website it’s currently PhP 121 for a 50ml bottle.  I read on someone’s blog that it retails for PhP 150 a bottle at a stall in Marikina Riverbanks.  On the bottle it reads: “Handmade in our bee farm using rejuvenating royal jelly and a melange of tropical flower, fruit, nut and seed oils.  Can be used as a night cream.  Restores aging, dry and sensitive skin.  Ingredients tend to separate; No emulsifiers, preservatives or thickeners used.  Shake well before using.”

The tropical flower must be ylang-ylang.  I remember the scent was stronger when it was newly bought.  A friend of mine declined using it because the added scent was too strong for her.  Since I hadn’t had a chance to use it since buying it I smelled it again and the ylang-ylang scent had mellowed.  The oil must be a combination of edible oils I can only guess at (sweet almond and grapeseed?  I really don’t know).  The oil didn’t separate in the over-six-months it hadn’t been used, so I figured it was ok.  I used a similar amount as the Argan Oil.  I find the texture of this oil to be a tad heavier or thicker, but it wasn’t hard to spread it evenly on my skin.  It smelled good.  When I woke up in the morning the reddish areas on my face from the previous day’s laziness disappeared.  My skin was supple and the pores were small all week.  Verdict:  I loved it too.

On the third week I tried Cocowonder’s cold-pressed, culinary grade Virgin Coconut Oil.  It cost PhP 375/liter.  Given the different kinds of VCO available, my sister and I decided on cold-pressed because extraction using heat would destroy the health benefits claimed.  We chose culinary grade because it is also cosmetic grade.  Our goal was to find a viable and cost-effective alternative to the Argan Oil.  I transferred some C-VCO to a small cosmetic dispenser bottle I had repurposed.

I used the same amount of C-VCO as I used with the previous two facial oils.  I also used about a tablespoon to massage into my hair an hour before shampooing, to see if it would help a dry scalp.  C-VCO smells like nutty baked goods.  I mention this because not many people like the heavy smell of bukayo, a cooked coconut candy.  Many assume that VCO would smell like that, but it doesn’t.  The scent disappears once the oil has been absorbed by the skin.  Like the argan oil, it left no residual smell on my pillows.  In the mornings my skin had a lovely texture, and my hair was soft and my scalp had no flakes.  I’ve done the hair conditioning several times since then.  Verdict:  I loved it as well.

My skin has never looked so good.  I can’t afford to be lazy, though, and forget to moisturize nightly.  Not once have I broken out with a pimple.  Not once.

Now while I love all three, Argan Oil is simply too expensive, in comparison to the other two oils.  It is also the best for my finger that suffers from dermatitis (stays on, keeps moist longer).  If I have a chance to go to Ilog Maria in Cavite, or even to Marikina Riverbanks, I’d buy the Royal Jelly Facial Oil again.  But for everyday hair, skin, nails and internal needs, I think I can stick with VCO.  While I’ve done my part helping the Berber women of Morocco, I think it’s good (not to mention patriotic) to put the rest of my money in a Philippine product.  (And oh, the lovely savings!)

This blog is not affiliated with any of the enterprises mentioned.  All products were purchased at full retail price.


I started my running career with my former trainer, Lawrence Gange, in December 2006. From June to December that year, on Lawrence’s personalized core strength and cardio program, I lost 10lbs and lost a couple of inches off my waist. Then he said, “I’m entering you in the Yakult 5k in December. All you have to do is finish the run.”

My sister Joy, who was working on losing postpartum weight, agreed to be my running buddy. We ran from Star City down Roxas Blvd. all the way to… Pedro Gil? Or was it Padre Faura? Then back to Star City. It was the first time I was able to run continuously without stopping, at my own pace. Joy and I had made a pact – no leaving the other one behind. It was fun, a well-organized run. I finished the race in 52 minutes, receiving a certificate and a Yakult finisher jersey big enough to be a dress if I’d belted it. I was exhilarated. And hungry as hell.

Not too bad for a first-timer, I thought. To think, I was even running while on antibiotics (a wasp bite had gotten infected). I was amazed to feel a second wind kick in, halfway through the race. I was thinking, “So this is what it feels like.” For a moment it was as if the rest of the world had melted away; I felt I could keep on running and running. Alas, during the last 2 kilometers the arch of my left foot started aching and went numb. Since I have flat feet, I run in Nikes with a padded insole. At the time I really couldn’t feel anything in my left foot except pressure, so I just continued to run, filing the experience in my head as something to work on. There were water stations along the route, so I wasn’t too dehydrated.

At the last 500m I could hear Lawrence shouting from the sidewalk, “Go girls!!!” Apart from Joy and myself, he had another client registered in the Yakult 5k. Lawrence had hurt his ankle in a kitchen accident two weeks before. I remember that day, seeing him on the sidewalk propped up on crutches, waving his stopwatch with an infectious grin on his face. I waved and grinned back, and kept running.

We celebrated with breakfast at The Aristocrat. Our entire family showed up for moral support. We have a picture with Lawrence, but I can’t find it yet. Will post it when I do. Lawrence immigrated to Canada with his nurse wife a few months later. And I have continued to run ever since.